Duluth gets EPA grant to protect Lake Superior basin

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $250,000 grant to the city of Duluth today to help reduce the flow of stormwater into the Lake Superior basin.

The so-called "green infrastructure" grant will help the city reduce stormwater runoff from the Lake Superior Zoo parking lot and Chambers Grove Park at Duluth's far southern edge, both of which were extensively damaged by flooding in 2012. A third project will help redevelop a contaminated site near the St. Louis River that once housed a cement plant.

The $250,000 grant will be matched by the city of Duluth, the state of Minnesota, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, and the U.S. Army Reserve.

Mayor Don Ness said some of the funding will help with the ongoing recovery from major flooding two summers ago.

"The flood of 2012 really brought to light the importance of addressing stormwater issues and being proactive, so that we can slow down the rate of the stormwater into our streams and rivers, as well as making sure that the water that is entering the streams and rivers is clean," he said.

Duluth is the first of 16 Great Lakes shoreline cities that will receive grants, said Susan Hedman, the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Region 5 administrator.

"It will reduce flooding, and it will improve water quality in the western Lake Superior basin, which is, after all, where the Great Lakes begin," Hedman said.

The projects are intended in some cases to trap sediment and contamination from running into rivers. They will use soil and vegetation to hold and filter stormwater and are designed to supplement stormwater culverts and sewers.

Hedman said such projects are becoming more important "to protect against the impacts of more frequent and more intense storms and other possible impacts of climate change."

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